Geoff Evans was a standout for some of the best basketball teams in Hickory High’s hardwood history.
School officials hope Evans can transfer that magic to his new job as boys’ head coach. School board member Chris Ruffo said Evans remains the all-time leading scorer in Hickory history.
“Hopefully, some years down the road, he also becomes the all time winningest coach in school history,” Ruffo said.
Hired Monday, Evans replaces Nick Cannone, who was let go at the end of the season.
“I’m very excited to come back to Hickory,” said Evans, a 1997 Hickory grad. “It’s not too often a player gets to come back and coach at his alma mater.”
Evans ended his scholastic career having helped the Hornets to a pair of PIAA Final Four berths.
As a freshman in 1993-94 Evans’ 223 points contributed to Hickory’s 23-7 ledger that concluded in a 55-53 loss to Beaver Falls in the western regional finals.
Evans’ sophomore season was short-circuted by Blackhawk, 80-56, in the west finals, in spite of his 522 points (54 3-point field goals), 213 rebounds, 78 assists, 62 steals and 32 blocked shots. Hickory harvested a 26-5 record.
That campaign concluded a 3-year span during which the Hornets had an aggregate 72-20 record, reaching 3 consecutive statewide Final Fours. Bill Dzuricsko, for whom Evans played, concluded his coaching career as the Hickory boys’ cage program’s winningest mentor (202-134, 60.1 percent).
Despite pouring in 571 and 652 points, respectively, during his junior and senior seasons Hickory had 14-12 marks both years, suffering District 10 opening-round losses to Gen. McLane (66-53) and returning regional finalist Franklin (79-69), respectively.
Evans concluded his career with 1,968 points — at the time, 2nd only to former Sharpsville standout Brian Brush (1,982) — and hoisted the Hornets to a composite 77-36 (68.1 percent) record. The year after he graduated, Hickory finished 4-19.
Initially, Evans matriculated at Boston University, then subsequently transferred to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he enjoyed a successful 2-year stint.
During the past 4 years Evans served as an assistant at Kennedy Catholic under Rick Mancino, and this past season under Jason Rankin at Sharon.
“He’s paid his dues,” said school board President Dr. Morren J. Greenburg. “We’ve had some very good coaches in the past. He, hopefully, will follow in their footsteps.”
Evans was one of 12 to apply for the job.
“We hired the best candidate, hands down,” said school board member Rob Gelesky.
Greenburg added that Evans, who will be paid $4,373, will work with elementary and junior high students on their basketball skills.
“He knows the families, he knows the students,” Greenburg said. “He comes from multiple good programs at Kennedy and Sharon. The type of game he is going to commit our kids to is the way that it’s played nowadays,” he said.
“My philosophy as a coach will be getting our players hard-nosed, attacking on offense and getting after it on defense,” Evans said.
While the Hornets are losing Matt Votino and other key players, they return Anthony Cannone and Donté Green from a 19-4 team. Evans had high praise for both, and some younger hoopsters he thinks highly of.
“I’m very excited to get in front of those guys this week,” Evans said.
Evans resides in Hermitage with his wife, Mindy, a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
Geoff Evans was a standout for some of the best basketball teams in Hickory High’s hardwood history.
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
Raiders win 17th region title; 11 locals to Hershey
When Reynolds senior Levi Stoyer came off the mat after his 145-pound championship at the Northwest AA Regional Championships, he wasn’t celebrating his second straight crown. Instead, he turned to head coach Casey Taylor and said, “I did it for the team.”
And the team needed it!
Stoyer defeated Brookville’s Zach Vroman, 3-0, and sent Reynolds on its way to the school’s 17th region team title Saturday night at Sharon High School. Reynolds finished with 147 points, to Brookville’s 138.
Hickory girls capture 1st district title since 1983
MEADVILLE — Depending upon peoples’ perceptions, 31 years can seem like a lifetime ... but so can 16 minutes.
Hickory High girls’ basketball program’s District 10 drought ended Saturday afternoon as perennial power Villa Maria virtually vanished from the 2nd-half scoreboard.
The Lady Hornets erased a 7-point halftime deficit by yielding just 4 second-half points en route to a 39-24 victory over Villa Maria in the District 10 Class AAA championship game.
KC beats Cochranton for 4th straight D-10 crown
MEADVILLE — Everybody is on April Bocian’s bandwagon — and rightly so. But Tatum Kress helped keep Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball program atop District 10’s Class A competition.
Kress connected for all 14 of her points during the 2nd half Saturday afternoon, keying the Kennedy Catholic to a 49-38 conquest of Cochranton.
McLane rallies to beat Mercer in AA title tilt
In 1986, the Mercer Lady M’s won the school’s first and only girls basketball District 10 title at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House, but in the same gym on Saturday in 2014, the squad in blue wasn’t so lucky.
Mercer led the Gen. McLane Lady Lancers 27-19 entering the fourth quarter, but the Lancers outscored the Lady M’s 19-4 in the final frame to win the Class AA title tilt 38-31.
WM captures 3rd straight D-10 crown
EDINBORO — The West Middlesex Big Reds did it again! For the third straight year, the Big Reds, under the leadership of head coach Chad Mild, the winningest coach in West Middlesex school history, won the District 10 title with a thrilling 55-54 victory over the Fairview Tigers on Friday night at McComb Field House.
Farrell beats East for D-10 Class AAA title
MEADVILLE — Malik Miller was playing with a broken hand, but broke the hearts of East High’s basketball team.
Sophomore sharpshooter Miller mustered 19 markers — tossing in 4 from beyond the arc — helping forge Farrell to the District 10 Class AAA championship, 83-78.
Raiders hold lead at Northwest AA Region Tourney
Reynolds coach Casey Taylor had a simple, but fitting comment after the opening night of the Northwest AA Region Wrestling Championships at Sharon High School Friday:
“So far; so good!”
The defending champion Raiders, who are seeking a 17th region crown in school history, jumped into the team lead with 45 points Friday, heading second place Brookville with 35.
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